How we use energy
Municipal services and infrastructure are a significant energy user in any community. Buildings, vehicles, and streetlights are obvious energy users, while water and sewer pumping and treatment are less obvious.
The City has been monitoring its energy use since 2011 by tracking its consumption of fuel oil, electricity, and propane. These commodities power buildings, vehicles, heavy equipment, portable equipment, etc.
The chart below shows the breakdown of the City’s energy use. The fleet includes transit, heavy equipment, and light duty fleet. Streetlights include traffic signals. Water and sewer refers to all pumping and treatment of drinking and waste water.
City energy goals
The City has set goals for its own energy consumption in the Whitehorse Sustainability Plan (2015), which include:
- Make new City-owned buildings 50% more efficient than the National Energy Code.
- Make City-owned building retrofits with a 20 year or longer lifespan 30% more efficient than the NECB.
- Require new buildings in Whitehorse to be 30% more efficient than the NECB, National Building Code, or achieve a comparable EnerGuide Rating.
- Reduce per capita water consumption.
- Increase renewable energy production by the City of Whitehorse.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2014 levels.
Click here for more information about Whitehorse Sustainability Plan targets.
What is the City doing?
The City is attempting to reduce the energy consumed by both its own buildings and operations and by households and businesses within Whitehorse.
Internal energy reduction
The most significant energy savings project currently underway is the consolidation of City operations into a new building, scheduled for completion in spring 2019. Modelling shows that the building should obtain an energy efficiency of 80% better than the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) guidelines. The City anticipates significant energy reduction by discontinuing use of the Transit building and the Municipal Services Building.
Other energy savings features of the building include waste heat recovery, air curtains, and LED lighting. The building will also include approximately 400 kw of onsite renewable photovoltaic generation.
In other areas, the City has achieved a high rate of changeout to LED lighting, including nearly 100% LED lighting in the Lion’s Aquatic Centre and Takhini Arena.
In 2012, the City completed an Energy Management Plan to serve as a roadmap for achieving significant energy and cost reductions and improving the overall energy management of City facilities. The development of the Plan involved energy audits on 23 City facilities, representing over 90% of the City’s floor space, as well as staff interviews, performance benchmarking, and an organizational assessment.
The Plan provides the business case and action plan for the implementation of cost-effective energy management opportunities including technical measures, operating and maintenance practices, and corporate-level energy management systems.
Community energy reduction
In terms of the energy used by the community of Whitehorse, the City continues to promote active transportation and transit use as alternatives to private vehicle use.
Whitehorse has had new energy efficiency standards since 2012, preceding similar standards required under the NECB. Energy labelling is now also required in new home construction. Visit Building Inspections for more detail.
Households have an enormous potential to reduce the overall energy consumption in Whitehorse and reduce GHG emissions. There are many ways homeowners can save energy in their homes:
- Educate yourself about your energy options. Learn about heating system and fuel options from Yukon Energy Branch and Yukon Housing Corporation. Click here for a comparison report on fuel options and impacts.
- Change your household habits to reduce your consumption associated with lighting, heating, appliances, water use, yard care, and seasonal maintenance. Read the Yukon government’s Easy$ Tip Sheets for many great ideas.
- Switch out appliances and make sensible purchases. Participate in the Yukon government’s Good Energy Program. A variety of rebates and incentives will help you purchase more energy efficient appliances and upgrade your home.
- Get an energy assessment. A certified energy advisor can analyse your home’s energy use. Based on the information, you can decide which improvements can reduce your energy and water consumption and GHG emissions, and save you money.
- Consider upgrades to your building envelope. Yukon Energy Branch offers incentives to upgrade the insulation and windows in your home.
- Learn how to save electricity. The inCharge program provides rebates on LED lighting and block heater timers. You can find information on the rebate program as well as lots of helpful electricity conservation tips and tricks at inchargeyukon.ca.
- If you’re a home renter, you can also do your part to save energy. See Energy Star’s advice for renters.
- Monitor energy being produced at the Whitehorse Dam. In the summer, Yukon Energy Corporation meets most of Yukon’s needs with hydroelectricity, but in the winter, supplemental diesel or LNG is required. If you know when the peak demand is (usually morning and evening), you can plan your energy use accordingly and potentially reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced in generating electricity.
Emissions Inventories are important tools, enabling us to better comprehend the types and quantities of pollutants that are emitted to the air we breathe over a specific time period. The data in an emissions inventory enables policy makers to prioritize options to reduce emissions and to monitor progress towards emission reduction targets.
Thousands of sources release air contaminants every day. Emission sources range in size from your vehicle and your household furnace, to small businesses, airplanes and large-scale industrial operations.
To keep track of corporate emissions, City of Whitehorse began compiling an annual emission inventory in 2019. The inventory describes the amounts of contaminants released into the air by different types of sources. By monitoring emissions, it allows the City of Whitehorse to track progress for corporate emissions targets set through the Sustainability Plan (2015).
Use Cleaner Power
Whitehorse uses mostly clean electricity, produced from water flowing through turbines. During the winter, when less water is available, LNG and diesel-generated electricity supplements the hydro power during periods of peak demand. Typically from 6-9 am and 4-7 pm, many electricity-consuming appliances and pieces of equipment are being turned on at once, such as computers, heaters, and stoves.
Reducing your peak demand will help reduce the amount of fossil fuel burned for electricity, particularly in winter. Yukoners who pay demand charges can also reduce their monthly bill by reducing peak consumption. Here are some ideas for reducing the peak:
- Check Yukon Energy’s current consumption page to know whether we are burning diesel or LNG for electricity at this moment.
- Use appliances off peak. Delaying use of appliances, or using them at night will help smooth out the hydro load. Some ideas:
- Put your dishwasher on a timer rather than washing dishes right after dinner. Delaying your dishwasher after breakfast will also help reduce the morning peak.
- Wash and dry your clothes in off-peak hours.
- Other appliances where use can be delayed include the oven (especially self-clean cycle), vacuum cleaner, treadmill, and computer (e.g. run updates at night).
- Shower at off-peak times. A quick shower in the morning is no big deal, but save long showers or baths for before bed, or right after you exercise.
- Alter your heating program. If you’re not already using a programmable thermostat, consider switching so that your furnace will go down at times when you’re regularly out of the house. Many people program their heat to go up when they awaken and down an hour or two later. Consider moving your heating period slightly earlier to level out the peak over a longer period of time (i.e. heat from 5-7am rather than 6-8am). Obviously, this is most significant for those heating with electricity, but oil and propane heating systems also use electricity.